Case Study - Small Clothes Company in Alexandria Runs nothing but GNU/Linux

Egyptian companies have long relied on proprietary software to get their work done. There are many reasons for this, mainly lack of knowledge & awareness of the Free/Open Source alternatives. Most business owners/managers are simply wary of free (zero cost) software. "How would a free O/S have the quality of windows ??" is a popular question. Even grandma has some sort of windows experience, which makes them feel assured that it will be easy to obtain technical support, should problems arise.

Well, how about showing a real Egyptian business which relies solely on FOSS ??

Mr. Omar BaheyElDin. is the owner of Abu Youssef company, which works in cloth. He's been running solely on GNU/Linux & Free software for years, and he's quite satisfied. He forgot all about crashes, viruses and has saved a lot of money ever since. here is the story:

6 years ago one of Mr.Omar's relatives (who was studing in U.S.A) showed to Mr.Omar And his Brother a strange Oprating System. that oprating system was GNU/Linux and they kept playing with it but it`s wasn`t a very friendly operating system like nowadays and it wasn`t known in Egypt at all.

In those old days windows was alrady installed in Mr.Omar company`s Lan ( 2 computers , 2 Laptops ) but he was using GNU/Linux on 386 box as a file server. After closing uneeded services it ran perfectly. He also used FoxPro for database stuff and sure the microsoft office on the computers of his Lan. but all that was about to change.

That change happend 3 years ago when el mosnfat (kinda like egyptian Intelectual Property police) sent Mr.Omar a letter asking him to rearrange his software and get rid of any pirated software he use if he using any or else face the consequences (very high fines and confisication of equipmen, not to mention lengthy trials and legal dances). so he chose to forget about that headache and save some money by switching to FOSS and GNU/Linux and use them full time in his company.

He started with the accounting system, after quickly reviewing Nola, Compier and SQL-Ledger he settled for SQL-Ledger which is a powerful accounting system that can do almost everything in accounting.

he also used OpenOffice.Org (and somtimes Koffice for compatibility with legacy proprietary formats like *.doc *.rtf), KDE as desktop env.

They're using Mandrake (after playing with Redhat, Slackware and Debian), currently running Mandrake 10, Mandrake was chosen for its ease of use and for adding arabic support very early on, but at the moment they're contemplating a move to debian due to the greater stability.

Mr Omar faced little hardware compatibility problems (some old soundcards that are now well supported), one big problem was internal winmodems, they avoided this eternal problem by buying external modems and switching to ADSL the moment it was available.

They get support online from free community sites, sometimes it difficult to find answers but a bit of searching is all they ever need.

Mr.Omar is quite happy and satistfied with FOSS and it`s work. since there is are viruses like windows and the system is less likely to be compromised, He says it was soo easy to switch to GNU/Linux becouse it did not required special skills from the employees all thay have to do is File->open stuff. Nothing fancy, just regular GUIs with menus, data entry fields and stuff which is user-friendly and quite similar to windows applications.

While Mr. Omar and his employees are no hackers, they're not simple users either, Mr Omar often finds himself using command line tools to find and grep things feeling that its much faster than the typical graphical ways.

when faced with a need that was not covered by existing FOSS apps, Mr Omar started thinking how he can help solve the problem by helping or contributing, the acountants needed a localized accounting package, Mr Omar quickly realised that if they don't do it themselves no one will, and after finding out that the process was rather simple he sat down and did the job himself, till this day he still maintains the Arabic translation of SQL-Ledger.

Really FOSS is great for all kind of work. and Mr.Omar Advise other small business owners to switch for FOSS if they are can dig enough into computers (or find employees who can).

We thank Mr. Omar for his contribution (FOSS is all about contributing and giving something back) - and for his precious time (as busy as he was, he gave us all the time we needed and was quite helpful). He showed us some of the very useful features of SQL-Ledger.

We hope this small interview would urge other businesses to migrate to Open Source software and benefit from the stability, security & cost savings. Having seen someone who's already done that may be just what we need.

if you know of other cases of FOSS usage or development in Egypt, tell us so we can cover them.

And now here are some pics of SQL-Ledger in Action.

NOTE:We coudn`t get (elmosanfat) letter since it was hard to find.

This is an invoice with some sold items, to be printed.

Creation of the invoice, you can change the currency and add new currency for the items that the company deals in (selling or buying).

Incoming statments for the company (trial).

Here is ShErbO and Linuxawy.

Mr. Omar ,DarKnesS_WolF and ShErbO - Mr. Omar was showing us some work with SQL-Ledger.

This is the 2nd computer on the network.